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About 3 billion consumers in emerging markets will be online by 2022. Most of them will use the internet to collect information before buying products, pushing the level of digitally influenced purchases to nearly $4 trillion, says a report by The Boston Consulting Group that was presented at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin recently. Ecommerce in emerging markets is expected to grow from about 15% of all retail sales in 2017 to 20% in 2022. Companies trying to tap this market would have to t ..

Companies trying to tap this market would have to tweak their strategies at the product, country and city levels. A quick look at what to expect:

In 2017…
2.1 billion internet users in emerging markets.
By 2022…
3 billion internet users expected in emerging markets.
$3.9 trillion is the expected level of digitally influenced purchases.
3 times as many internet users in emerging markets as in developed markets.

Digital Development
% share of retail spend in 2017

*Digitally influenced means retail purchases made after collecting information through the internet; purchases could be online or otherwise

Common misconceptions about Indian internet users
Myth: Most internet users are city dwellers, affluent and range in age from 18 to 25 years.
Reality: 34% of internet users are from small urban towns, and 25% live in rural areas. 57% are older than 25 years

Myth: Indians go online primarily seeking out discounts. Companies that offer deals will see an increase in online sales.
Reality: Discounts drive about 30% of online sales. The convenience of online shopping drives 37%, and the variety of products and services available online drives 29%.

Myth: Social media creates a positive buzz and drives traffic.
Reality: Search engines drive traffic more than 40% of the time. Social media leads to 25% of traffic.

Myth: The commercial impact of digital is exaggerated. Ecommerce in India has limited reach
Reality: Of urban internet users, 40% engage in digital activity at some point during the purchasing process — and 13% of this group make actual purchases online.

How product categories fare online
Most subject to digital influence (%)


Note: Digitally influenced means retail purchases made after collecting info through the internet; purchases could be online or otherwise

Variable factors
Eight aspects that play a strong role in improving ecommerce in a market


Note: % of respondents are based on more than 15,000 internet users surveyed for the report, “Digital Consumers, Emerging Markets, and the $4 Trillion Future”, by The Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Customer Insight. They were surveyed to develop a picture of where emerging markets are in their digital development. It did in-person interviews with 1,000 or more people in each of nine countries: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, the Philippines, and South Africa. All the interviews were conducted in urban areas, where the connectivity level is highest and internet use is most engrained.

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